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Conservation and Land Management Internship Program

We have one late-breaking internship opportunity for this field season! Please see below for details. If you would like to apply, please send a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three references to Chris Woolridge at:


Agency: US Geological Survey

Location: Henderson, NV

Start date: June 1st

Duration: 24 weeks

Position Description: This intern would work on aspects of the Joshua Tree Genome Project and participate in the second phase of this research on climate adaptation in Joshua trees. This research is a collaboration between multiple universities (including the co-leads at Willamette University and California State University – Northridge) and the US Geological Survey (Western Ecological Research Center), aiming to: 1) identify physiological and genetic expression responses to climate variation and heat stress in Joshua trees, 2) test for effects of climate on Joshua tree fitness and demography, and 3) identify locally adapted genes, test relationships between predicted population trait values and demographic status and compare drivers of local adaptation. 

The intern will be stationed and mentored at the US Geological Survey field office in Henderson, Nevada. The intern will germinate seedlings under controlled environmental conditions to understand differences in the performance of the various ecotypes. The intern will provide ongoing care of plants in common gardens distributed across the Mojave Desert, and will travel to gardens on a biweekly basis. In addition, interns will transplant seedlings into growth chambers for a laboratory experiment. Interns will also collect leaf tissues at multiple populations across the ecoregion so the tissues can undergo genetic analyses by university partners. Interns will gain skills in plant propagation (10% of time), field sample collections (10% of time), care and watering of plants in common gardens (60% of time) and data collection/management, and measurements in the common gardens (20%) for determining local adaptation. This research experience will help prepare interns for entry-level Botany, Plant Ecology, Natural Resource and Environmental positions and guide their path toward graduate school. Interns will also interact with ecologists and technicians performing research on desert restoration and rare plant conservation as well as other projects on desert ecology.

In the field, interns will work in remote desert settings with occasional camping under primitive conditions. Field trips will be spent collecting Joshua tree fruits for propagating seedlings in the greenhouse, collecting and documenting leaf tissues for genetic analyses, and maintaining seedlings in four common gardens across the Mojave Desert.  Interns with interest in working in a desert ecosystem, conducting research, and experience making detailed measurements and exercising attention to detail when measuring plant traits are desirable. Interns will periodically help maintain climate stations, remove weeds and ensure common garden fencing remains intact. Interns will also enter data into electronic databases, produce data summaries, and process plant samples in the laboratory. Valid driver's licenses is required, experience driving large vehicles, driving while towing trailers, and driving on dirt roads are highly desirable.


The Chicago Botanic Garden stands firmly opposed to systemic and institutional racism. We passionately believe that Black lives matter. We recognize that people of color often feel unwelcome in public spaces, including gardens, forest preserves, and parks. The Chicago Botanic Garden acknowledges that we can do more to address this within our own organization. We recommit ourselves to live our mission and values as we strive to make the Chicago Botanic Garden a welcoming place for everyone.

The Conservation and Land Management (CLM) internship program places early-career scientists in five-month paid internships to assist professional biologists with land management and conservation projects. Since 2001, the CLM program has successfully placed over 1350 interns, providing them with a rich experience from which to launch their professional careers. 


CLM Internship Benefits 
CLM internships are paid internships! ​
 Explore your career goals and expand your resume 
Experience new landscapes, habitats, and species diversity in the beautiful western US
Make connections in various governmental and non-profit organizations
Learn what it's like to work at a federal agency
Apply your education to important conservation projects

Most of our internships are located in the western US, where the majority of public land occurs. Federal partners include the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. D. A. Forest Service, U.S. Geologic Survey, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others. Non-profit partners include the the Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank and the Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank.​

Click here to read more about our internshi​ps!


In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, Chicago Botanic Garden does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its programs or activities, including in employment or admissions. Please call 847-835-8264 to contact our Title IX Coordinator should you have questions or concerns.